Business leaders urged caution over the latest figures on Zero-Hours Contracts, which showed a mixed picture, with an increase in the number of employees saying they were on ZHCs, but companies reporting a fall in use of the contracts. Seamus Nevin, Head of Employment and Skills at the Institute of Directors, said:
“Today’s figures will inevitably provoke a storm, but before jumping to conclusions, we need to look at the facts. Firstly, the Office for National Statistics is very clear that there has not necessarily been an increase in the number of people on Zero-Hours Contracts. It is likely that some people are now just more aware of the name because of press coverage and so the level of under-reporting has been reduced. Indeed, ONS figures show that the number of businesses using Zero-Hours Contracts might actually be falling.
“More to the point, it is important to note that the vast majority (two-thirds) of people on Zero-Hours Contracts say they are happy with their employment terms and do not want to work more hours. For students, elderly workers in semi-retirement, and people with childcare responsibilities, Zero-Hours Contracts offer much needed flexibility that they can’t get with other forms of employment.
“Many of the issues campaigners had against Zero-Hours Contracts have now been resolved. The last government correctly banned exclusivity clauses, which said that an employee could only work for one company at a time.
“One of the reasons that UK employment figures remained so impressive despite the financial crisis is because employers have been able to adopt Zero-Hours Contracts instead of having to make redundancies. The bottom line is that flexibility is a good thing, and the current balance is working well for both workers and employers.”